Transforming Stillness

It’s Week 7 with our friend Jayber Crow
over at Michele Morin’s site,
and Jayber is finding his world has spun on its axis.

Have you been on that spinning ball?
It was a spinning week for me,
with lingering side effects followed by 
more medical tests.
So I have been pondering the effects that grief and spinning will have on Jayber, as he moves forward from here. In this week’s chapters, Jayber found himself secretly loving someone out of his reach, and then suffering the full weight of her grief when she watched her young daughter get killed in a tragic accident.
Even as he realized that he was not in a position to be able to show his love to her, at the same time he began to question his own position of being an outsider in his community:
“I have got to the age now where I can see how short a time we have to be here. And when I think about it, it can seem strange beyond telling that this particular bunch of us should be here on this little patch of ground in this little patch of time, and I can think of the other times and places I might have lived, the other kinds of man I might have been. But there is something else. There are moments when the heart is generous, and then it knows that for better or worse our lives are woven together here, one with one another and with the place and all the living things.”

Berry, Wendell. Jayber Crow: A Novel (Port William) (p. 210). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition. 

Where is my own heart landing 
in this place of feeling 
cut-off from what I knew
and where I thought I belonged? 
Has the STILLNESS of this year brought me to a new 
kind of resting?
At the beginning of this year, when I heard the Lord speak my OneWord for this year to be “Stillness,” I was disappointed because it felt like more-of-the-same for this slowed-down Chronic Illness lifestyle that already chafed against my own will.  And maybe that is the reason He spoke it —

He meant to show me a better way.

“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,’
declares the Lord. 

 ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.'”

Isaiah 55:8-9 

One of the first gifts from this year of stillness came to me through a dear blogging friend, Joy Lenton, of Poetry Joy,  as she pointed me in the direction of an app designed to bring help in getting started with Silent or Centering prayer. I agonized over those early days of sitting in God’s Presence with only quietness between us. But gradually I came to look forward to those times of knowing that I could be with Jesus, in a cloud of silence. Reigning in my abundance of thoughts to center on the beauty of HIM became a way to find rest when I had no peace of my own.

So this week, as I wished that I did not have to talk about one more test, I went to the hospital and laid my head down in preparation for the Doctor to take yet more biopsies. But into this heart that was dreading the pain, there came a song so sweet, with only two words flowing in my mind. 

Beautiful Jesus.

Without even realizing what was happening, my thoughts could only focus on those quiet words.

Again and again,
Beautiful Jesus.

Turn my head, and wait for another needle.

Beautiful Jesus.

Imagine my surprise when the Doctor spoke to me as he was finishing, “You did so great! I don’t know what you were doing there, was it meditating? But it was great!” And, I managed a croaking response of “Praying!” as he hurried out of the room to his next procedure.

 I came home, with my neck wrapped in ice packs, and texted a cluster of family and friends who were thankful to be able to pray for me. And the next day, as I battled discouragement while waiting for the swelling and pain to be alleviated, neighbors offered broth and noodles for my parched throat. 

It was then I remembered the beautiful artwork that I had received from another dear blogging friend just days before.  Wendy Simpson, who writes at Widow’s Manna, had sent me one of her beautiful cards in response to a small contest she ran on her Facebook Page, Wendy’s Vignettes. She had no idea of my past story, since we “met” each other after I had written this post, here:  “The Butterflies.” Yet she listened  to the Lord and chose the very painting that would speak most deeply to me:

The Season has indeed shifted for me. I am no longer involved in the busyness of life that I used to thrive on. I am no longer a part of the Church in the way that I used to be. 

And yet,

My life is being woven together
With hearts
In ways I could not have envisioned
had I not slowed down.

My heart is being woven together
With my Lord
In ways I could not have envisioned
had HE not slowed me down. 


Here is the beautiful song that came in phrases to my mind:

I cannot give enough thanks for all who have prayed for me during these testings.
We are woven together through Him.

My heart is filled with thanksgiving.

For more thoughts on Centering Prayer:
 You can find Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, by clicking here.



18 thoughts on “Transforming Stillness

  1. You bring God honor as you wait for Him, in stillness, content, confident in His goodness in shepherding your life. God bless you, Bettie.
    For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. – Isa 30:15 KJV


  2. Dear Linda,
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and that Scripture! The Lord used that very verse and chapter so strongly in my life, 23 years ago! So, I feel Him speaking that He is bringing it full circle, fulfilling what He began back then. I am so grateful that you were open to the Lord in your sharing. May you be blessed today!


  3. Dear Bettie,
    You are an inspiration as you slow down and listen, even if the slowing wasn't your choice. Maybe the fact that it wasn't your choice, and yet you are surrendered makes the power of God so visible and powereful. I thank God for you. He has acchieved much through you, in this season. He will slow us all down, eventually, and when He does, I will remember your example, and be confident that He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us for His Glory. I am so thankful to know you and for your servant's heart and example. I am praying for healing and joy that comes in loving Him.


  4. Dear Debbie,
    Isn't it amazing how God lets each of our surrenders overflow onto those around us? I have been so blessed by your surrenders to obey Him in your life! And, you are right, we all will be slowed down eventually. I love the verses that you bring up here to trust in our God–He is so able to do above ALL that we can ask or think! Thank you for this beautiful reminder and comfort to my heart today. I am so thankful for your friendship and prayers! May He bless you abundantly today! Hugs & Love!


  5. Do keep us posted on all this medical stuff — praying that the spinning will soon be in the rear view mirror. You are way ahead of me in the classroom where we learn to be a human being instead of a “human doing.”
    Thanks for weaving these thoughts into your insights on Jayber. So much good interaction here in your writing home!


  6. I so loved reading this, Bettie. I've gone back a few times now. And today I also went to read the Butterfly post from July, which I'd missed because we were on holiday then. Oh what a blessing to read that as well. God is just stunning how He showers us in His love and beauty in our hardest moments. Prayer was what got my Mum through 6 weeks of 6 days per week radiotherapy. She absolutely hated it (she had to put a full head-mask on because they were hitting the brain), but God really drew near.

    Although I hate that you have to walk through all this I am so incredibly thankful that the quietness you've been pressed into has poured more of God into my life. Eternal seeds you've sown, the fruits of which are still unfolding. And oh the joy that is being unleashed. So so thankful for you – your prayers, your love, your words of encouragement at just the right time and above all the safe place you've been for me. I like to think of you as one of my Mum's answered prayers.


  7. Dear Michele,
    Thank you so much for your prayers–yes I will be posting an update when I hear. It is so interesting to me how the Lord brings alive in each one of us so many different facets of His Grace. If we do not allow Him to bring the weaving, then we will miss out on so many of His gifts won't we? Thanks for offering a safe place at your site for so much lively discussion and sharing, and for so much encouragement to press forward in our learning!


  8. Dear Bettie, this is a beautiful read and an awesome testimony to God's sustaining grace and goodness toward you in your hour of need, as well as on a daily basis as you struggle with the tests and trials of having chronic illness. I was so moved to hear how wholeheartedly you have taken to stillness as a form of obedient surrender to your current circumstances, and how greatly God has met with you there, just as he did all those years ago via the deeply symbolic provision of monarch butterflies.
    You truly do reflect the Light you sit in and radiate the beauty of Jesus through your character and words. I feel humbly grateful to have played a small part in nudging you toward your contemplative prayer practices. It is evident those listening, quietening of the soul times are growing lovely mature fruit in you and also producing beautiful blog posts! May you continue to sense the way you are being held and carried on wings of prayer as you recover from the latest round of tests and treatments. Blessings, love and gentle hugs to you! xoxo


  9. Dear sweet soldier, I am so honored to know you and more of your story. I'll be reading your butterfly post soon. Butterflies have been a significant part of the story of my transformation. Praying with and for you.


  10. Dear Anna,
    I am so blessed that the Lord has allowed us to connect through these places of writing–HE has given a gift beyond comprehending. And I am looking forward so much to meeting your dear Mum in Heaven. She walked through such incredibly heavy days, but her heart of prayer for you has brought forth so much beauty! Isn't our God amazing the way that He seeks and finds us when we wander down our own paths? All the while He is pouring out those love gifts all around us. What joy to look back and see those old days transformed by His healing. I know that Heaven will bring us such different perspectives on these days of pain we walk through. Thank you so much for your encouragement and all of your prayers for me too. Love & Hugs dear friend!


  11. Dear Joy,
    Oh dear friend, I am so overwhelmed by the way that God has let our paths criss-cross on this Faith-journey through the struggles of chronic illness. What a blessed Lord we have who arranges every gift that He knows we will need. I know it wasn't an accident that I read an old post of yours that led me to the Centering Prayer app. Only God would direct my steps through such a round-about way! We just never know the ways that He will use our words, and you have helped me so much to see that. Thank you for your encouragement to wait upon HIM for the inner transforming, and to be patient with the small steps that I have felt myself moving along in! I have so much to learn in this journey of stillness, and quieting before HIM, but He is truly letting me know that I am “being held and carried on wings of prayer.” I am so thankful for your friendship! Love and Hugs to you!


  12. Dear Wendy,
    And I feel so honored to get to know you and hear more of your story also! Your heart of openness and surrender before the Lord has blessed me almost from the beginning of my blogging journey. I think yours was one of the first posts that I read when I took the risk to link-up at Bonnie Gray's site. I appreciate your prayers so much! May the Lord continue to be your portion and your helper. Love & Hugs!


  13. Dear, precious friend! I am SO sorry for all you have suffered and been through. I have been praying for you and trusting Jesus for wonderful results. Please do keep me posted on how things are going and when you hear back from the biopsies. Sending much love and many blessings to you today, in Jesus' name!


  14. Dear Cheryl,
    Oh I appreciate your prayers and support so much, dear friend! Our Lord Jesus sends us so much LOVE through the people He joins us with. I am grateful for the ways He connected us! His GOOD REPORT with “all benign” from the Doctor's Call was such a relief! He is so good to us! Blessings to you, my friend!


  15. God always has a reason for what He does. Your time of stillness has taught you so much and you so graciously share it with us. I need to get back to that app for the Centering Prayer. I know it would be very helpful to me. Blessings to you! xoxo Love and hugs!


  16. Dear Gayl,
    Yes, even now, when I am slowed physically, there are days when my mind races all over the place, and is anything BUT still! 🙂 I am so glad that Jesus still calls out to us to Come to Him! He does have such rest and help available for us, doesn't He? His reasons and His ways are the best! Love and Hugs to you too! xoxo


  17. I love your heart for God and willingness to share so deeply and tenderly. There is such a peace when I come to visit you here. Even if stillness is not what you chose for yourself, God is showing you over and over what a gift it is. Praying for you as you walk this road and blessed that you invite us in each week.


  18. Dear Mary,
    Oh, thank you for your kind words. These touched me so much: “God is showing you over and over what a gift it is.” It seems that I need to be reminded of that daily! And, yet, that is just what He does–through the words of friends, through moments in HIS Word, even in the trials, He is showing me the gift of stillness that He is bringing to my heart. Thank you for the blessings your words brought to me today. Blessings and Hugs to you!


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